High blood pressure and gastrointestinal pain on a chronic double date with stress and bad back issues can bring anyone into a daily fog of foulness. This has been the state for my Dad for years. What he finds more depressing is that he can find little reprieve for his terrible pain and coterminous moods with his favorite simple pleasure, coping mechanism: occasionally eating whatever the heck he wants. I can commiserate. In my own psychic articulations of how I experience and handle difficulties, there is nothing I want more in the world than to dip my face into that lightly powered drive of destruction replete with fat, sugar, and salt.
Everyone is going to get super sick or struggle with their health at least once or all the time in their lifetime (boo, mortality); for Anastasia and Paul, who are the proud owners of The Scotsman’s Kitchen and Bakery, this reality already hit them in the prime of their lives; and, like my Dad, it didn’t help that they couldn’t enjoy the simple pleasures of food. For Paul, a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, his food pleasures were making potato scones with his grandma for breakfast and making Victoria tea sandwiches. What’s a Victoria sammie, you ask? It’s a delicate sponge cake that is layered with jam and cream on the inside. Doesn’t that sound delightful? It is. It achieves delightfulness.
Anastasia and Paul want people to enjoy their simple edible pleasures without worrying if the contents are considerably unsound to one’s health. They believe that enjoyment shouldn’t be tolerated — like milk without fat, or mayonnaise without cholesterol — but moderately solicited. Think pie crust with less butter folded into the dough, sweetened with stevia instead of sugar and filled with locally sourced goodies like Triple S Farms sausage. Yes, I just described meat pie; and, yes, that’s a new appearance in The Scotsman’s Kitchen, crafted using The Scotsman’s Kitchen approach. As Paul and Anastasia call it, that approach is “a healthy twist on tradition.” Over 90% of their non-meat ingredients are purchased from Common Ground Food Cooperative in Urbana and 100% of their meat product is from Triple S Farms.
I stopped by the Urbana Market at the Square a few weeks ago to visit Paul and Anastasia of The Scotsman’s Kitchen and Bakery. As advertised, all of their products are Scottish/British-based items with several twists of health-conscious preparation and fantastic flavor combinations that playfully nudge against tradition. As I approached their table, Anastasia was arranging the beautifully packaged baked goodies and Paul was frying up potato scones, a childhood favorite for this Scotsman.
“It’s like biting into fried mashed potatoes; it’s absolutely lovely,” said Paul.
Atop the scone Paul placed some freshly cooked-to-perfection breakfast sausage from Triple S Farms whose truck was just parked to the right of The Scotsman’s table. Anastasia and Paul just recently teamed up with Triple S Farms, based in Stewardson, Illinois, to add some delicious, locally sourced meat to their baked goods set up.
"We use Triple S Farms meats to create new twists on our products, while also creating products that partner with their meats when we are sampling their products and ours at The Farmer's Market,” said Anastasia. “At one Farmers’ Market, we paired Triple S Farms Chorizo and with our Sun Dried Tomato, Black Olive and Manchego Scones. People loved it. Also, we have been able to help Triple S Farms expand their buyer club menu with our bakery items including strudels, custard tarts, cakes, mini fruit cups, chocolate, and scones."
Dear readers who may have already caught a whiff of The Scotsman's Kitchen and Bakery might know Anastasia and Paul as people of the scone. Yes indeed, they have made over 30 different varieties of scones to date; and, what drives these Urbana-based bakers is a mix of their own intrigue, creativity, and what their fans want on their tastebuds. Their latest flavor combination of scone is the mocha chocolate coffee scone, which they just released from the scone mindhive the day I came to the farmers' market. Honestly, I didn’t try the mocha chocolate coffee scones because I made the rookie foodie review mistake of filling my belly with too many meat pies and potato scones before I could get to the other goodies. I would like to add that Anastasia and Paul are more than just scone people, all of the wonderful baked product they had for purchase at the farmers’ market definitely backs my statement.
Planning to buy several bags of goodies from The Scotsman’s Kitchen and Bakery but want to enjoy them all throughout the week, month, or year as if a Scotsman had just freshly pulled them out of the oven for you? Product from The Scotsman’s Kitchen and Bakery are most delicious when you pull the goodies out of your freezer; spin around in a circle; dramatically toss your opened bag of scones, shortbread, or meat pie onto a lightly greased baking sheet; tippy toe to your oven preheated at 350 degrees fahrenheit; gingerly place them in the oven; close the oven door, gyrate those hips; and optionally stare into your oven window for 10-12 minutes. Take out those hotties and get ready to have them with your favorite beverage or not.
While sipping on some coffee from Common Ground at the Market, Anastasia and Paul were telling me about their market regulars, namely, Dr. John Wilcox, a retired U of I professor hailing from Great Britain and tickled pink to find his cultural delights every week at the Urbana farmers’ market. Just as I was snapping pictures of the packaged product and chatting about Dr. Wilcox, the doctor himself approached the table with his canvas bag ready to fill with Scotsman’s Kitchen goodies. After he confidently grabbed several packaged goods and promptly paid Anastasia, I asked him what he got. He replied shortbreads and Victorian sandwiches, taking the cellophane baggies out of his canvas sack to show me. He then turned to Paul as he was walking away and told him smilingly, “One day I’m going to make some of these shortbreads and strudels and bring them to the market for you to try!” Paul chuckled and pointed back at John with his potato scone spatula replying, “Alright, you’ve got a deal! Maybe next week, eh?”
During my hour of chatting with Paul and Anastasia and snapping photos about three more British people stopped by the table exuding excitement after spotting the name of the banner hanging up behind their market tent. A man from Sussex, England got into a discussion with Paul about other different meats he could put in the pies after eying the Italian herbed sausage pies and spicy chorizo pies. "Put traditional minced meat into some of your pies and I’ll be coming back for that," he said. Paul smiled and thanked him for letting him know and for stopping by. It seems like the farmers’ market is a great opportunity for them to get ample feedback from customers as they build their product and hopefully expand into their dream model business in the next five years: a brick and mortar.
"We are looking at creating a café with a difference,” said Anastasia. “We want to take it back to the old Victorian style with white tablecloths, cake stands, tea pots, cafetieres and servers in black and white with aprons. Take a look at Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, Scotland for our inspiration, designed by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh."
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now though, The Scotsman’s Kitchen and Bakery is much, much more than the sum of their scones. They are ever expanding with the variety of their products; and with partnerships like Triple S Farms and vendors like Common Ground, we should expect some lovely developments and surprises in the future.
I’m looking forward to trying more of their products. If I’m itching for a Scotsman’s Kitchen baked good on any day of the week, I know that I can hit up multiple locals: Triple S. Farms’ Buyer’s Club, Common Ground, Cracked on Green, Natural Gourmet (seasonally), and (drumroll) at Urbana's Market at the Square. Next time my Dad comes and visits me (hopefully with a cleaner bill of health in hand), I’ll be sure to take him over to The Scotsman’s Kitchen for a health-conscious treat.
You can also request The Scotsman’s Kitchen to cater your next small-scale gathering, or special order a cake for your next event or just because. Anastasia has been known to beautifully decorate cakes, tapping into her love of painting and crafted talent from her art school education. Be sure to check out their story and find a fuller list of their product on their website.
All photos by Megan Flowers.